“You’re slowly disappearing from my view … and I ran, I ran so far away … I just ran, I ran all night and day … ”
I’m a child of the 80s, so when I see a flock of anything soaring over the track at Los Alamitos at dawn, that’s where my mind goes. (OK, they were pelicans, not seagulls, but still … ) Fitting, as the team prepared this morning for California Chrome’s last “official” workout prior to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1.
As 8 a.m. approached, the deck outside the track kitchen got more and more crowded with “Chromies” anxious to see their favorite horse train. It was fun for me to see so many people I have exchanged messages with on Facebook and through email who stopped to introduce themselves and express their support for the team and for Chrome.
I headed back to the barn a little before 8 a.m., and was there when jockey Victor Espinoza rolled up in one of Team Sherman’s golf carts, just in time for groom Raul Rodriguez to call to him that it was time to get on board.
Assistant trainer Alan Sherman gave Victor a leg up, and after several warm up laps with Raul leading Chrome, they strode out to the main path and met Danielle and her pony for the short walk to the track. This week it was Marzipan, a flashy gelding with sleepy eyes. (Last week Tilly, the filly, was a bit of a distraction for Big Red.)
There was no backtracking this week. The team trotted onto the track and headed down the stretch to the finish line. Chrome was to work five-eighths of a mile, so the distance they would cover to get to the first turn would be plenty to add to his previous warm up. It was obvious as the stepped out that he was ready to go.
I wanted to get a different vantage point from previous weeks, so I picked up my pace and headed toward the center of the track, just as I saw Chrome and Victor depart from Danielle and Marzipan. This colt has such a fluid stride, and he seemed to glide down the backstretch. I started to focus on him just after he exited the far turn, and again I was pleased with every frame that I captured. I’ll not take credit for that, as it is hard to take a bad photo of California Chrome.
His workout was officially recorded as five furlongs in 59:60 handily. While trainer Art Sherman and Alan were subdued this week as they recovered from horrible colds, they were unanimous in their view of his workout.
Back at the barn, it was all business as the chestnut colt cooled down, and then seemed to indicate he wanted to be put up dirty, as he pulled back on his lead when it was time for his bath. A little coaxing and some warm, soapy water, and all was well.